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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Rufous Hummingbird -- Selasphorus rufus

RANGE: Breeds from southern Alaska, southern Yukon, and western and southern British Columbia to western Montana south, primarily in the mountains, to northwestern California, eastern Oregon, and central Idaho. Winters in Mexico, in small numbers to southern Texas and the Gulf Coast and, rarely, in coastal southern California.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Occurs in northwestern parks and gardens, in chaparral, and in meadows, forest edges, and riparian thickets of coniferous woodlands. During migration, may be found in high mountain meadows as well as in the Pacific lowlands in open areas where flowers are present.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Flowers (especially red) for nectar.

NEST: In northern latitudes, builds nest close to the ground where it is sheltered from wind and cold; otherwise, builds nest 5 to 50 feet above ground. May nest in a variety of sites, sometimes in colonies with up to 20 nests in a small area. Favors the drooping branches of conifers, but also nests in bushes and among vines. Sometimes builds a new nest on top of the previous year's nest.

FOOD: Consumes nectar from flowers, especially red flowers. Also eats insects.

REFERENCES: Bent 1940b, Garrett in Farrand 1983b, Johnsgard 1983b, Terres 1980.

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